This is a new homeschooling series to share what I’m learning through teaching at home. What’s become apparent to me through this first year or so of homeschooling is the need to focus less on my own idea of what it should look like and more on what my daughter needs. This idea of intuitive homeschooling–discerning what my daughter needs educationally and meeting those needs without my own agenda interferring–reminds me so much of what it’s like to parent a baby. Perhaps I have babies on the brain right now, but when they’re little we learn how to respond to their needs. Is she crying because she’s hungry? Needs a diaper change? A snuggle? Intuitive homeschooling, in my interpretation, is an adaptive, responsive form of schooling that has similar values to the unschooling movement.
In this series I’ll delve deeper into what we’re learning in our home and how my idea of homeschooling changes as we all grow together. To read more on our homeschooling journey so far, head here.
First semester this year was fairly rocky. I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant at the beginning of August with the onset of the worst case of morning sickness I’ve had with all of my kids. I tried to keep up with homeschooling, but most days I didn’t even get out of bed.
My self-imposed guilt over this led us to take V to tour a local elementary school, but ultimately we decided to continue with homeschooling. With that decision I gave myself an extra serving of grace and reminded myself that everything is a season. Including morning sickness and exhaustion!
By October and November we were back in our groove, learning to read and flying through math. She and her little sister became engaged in hours-long imaginative play, and I did not interrupt for school. We simply schooled around those bursts of creativity because I believe there is value in letting that unfold organically.
We continued to meet weekly with our nature exploring group on Wednesdays, attend storytime at our library, and the girls started ballet lessons. V even participated in our local ballet company’s Nutcracker and was the most adorable mouse.
And now to January: I noticed over the winter break that V was restless and occasionally had these bouts of wild energy. Part of that is from weathering the winter months, often indoors, and partially from lack of social engagement. We decided to be proactive with her need to learn more, be around more kids her age, and learn from another teacher by sending her one day a week to a local homeschooling school a few blocks from our home.
I was surprised to find out when we moved here that such an option actually existed! A local woman, who taught for years at the Montessori but grew a heart for homeschoolers, offers classes in her home. V will attend one day a week this spring from 8:30am-2:30pm and join a book club course, math, and a quasi-ethics/civics/environmental course for elementary kids.
My hope is that this experience will work in tandem with what we’re learning at home and provide her with another avenue of learning. The rest of the time we’ll continue working through our Charlotte Mason style math book, which she loves, and develop her reading fluency. We began the semester with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and it’s okay. I’m planning to order Reading through Literature Level 1, but would love to hear others’ thoughts.
Other than dialing in on math and reading, we spend most of our day following her interests. Right now we have checked out from the library a stack of books on maps, a few books on the national parks, a U.S. history book for elementary kids, and a National Geographic US maps book. These lessons unfold naturally and are unplanned. So for example, this week we read a story in the history book about the early French and Spanish explorers battling over Florida in the 1500s. We learned some new vocabulary, used our world globe to trace the path of their ships from Europe to Florida, studied the current day map of Florida and located St. Augustine, and then looked at national parks in Florida.
Since our state doesn’t require evaluations or a portfolio for homeschooling, I’m relishing the opportunity to go with her interests. I know our methods of homeschooling will change as she grows older, but for now this is working well. Today is her first day of homeschooling school, so I’ll let you all know in February how that’s working out.
Do you homeschool? Have plans to? Would love to hear in the comments.
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